Thursday, October 27, 2016

Silver Lake Farmers Market vendors see less green as competition grows

Fresh produce on sale at the Silver Lake Farmers Market | Lucy Guanuna

Fresh produce on sale at the Silver Lake Farmers Market | Lucy Guanuna


SILVER LAKE — Saturday mornings usually finds Lupe Esquivel at the Silver Lake Farmers Market, where she has run the Anna’s Family Farm vegetable stand for the past four years. While the market draws a crowd, Esquival says business has gotten tougher. “Sales have dropped down,” said Esquivel, who has had to lower prices to attract customers. “We aren’t making as much as we used to.” The same holds true for many other vendors.

A recent Los Angeles Times story noted a nationwide slow down in the growth of farmers markets, with market organizers in Southern California talking about saturated conditions as more than 200 markets compete for customers and farmers. “This leads to a situation where there are too many markets and not enough farmers and shoppers,” says the story.

The vendors at the Silver Lake Farmers Market, which operates on Saturdays and Tuesdays, know first hand about the tougher conditions.
Tony, a vendor at the Arreola Farms’ vegetable stand, has seen the transformation. Although the number of vendors and visitors has remained steady over the years,  sales continue to drop, he said. Arreola Farms’ sales went from $1,500 to about $800 in the recent years, Tony said.

“There’s a farmers market down the street, and the same one happens here in Silver Lake on Tuesdays,” said Tony. “It gives people other options. There is also more vegetable vendors than before. Before there was only two, including us.”

The competition amongst vendors makes it harder for newer vendors to establish themselves and build a customer base, said Randy Friedman with Etheridge Farms, which opened an organic fruit and nut stand in Silver Lake last June.

“It’s been a struggle trying to get established [in Silver lake],” Friedman said. “And the drop in sales follows because its more competitive and there is a lot of price competition, quality be damned. I refuse to drop our prices because it is organic and its more costly.”

Officials at the Silver Lake Farmers Market did reply to requests for an interview.

Lucy Guanuna has reported on a variety of issues, including business, education and social justice movements in her native Los Angeles. Her work has been published in the Daily Sundial, L.A. Activist, and the San Fernando Valley Business Journa

Photo by Lucy Guanuna

Photo by Lucy Guanuna

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  1. Sorry guys but that organic produce thing is a pretty crowded market now. I mean, even Von’s on Alvarado has a decent selection of kale, collards, chard at reasonable prices. And you don’t have to park 3 blocks away to access it…

  2. Why is this even a story? That a vendor has competition drawing down her profits is a big yawner of a story. If the vendor was white, would this journalist have written the story Um, no.

    • What on earth does the vendor’s race have to do with it? Besides which, how do you know that tony and randy friedman, two of the vendors quoted, are not white? Sheesh!

  3. Parking is a hassle and walking uphill with groceries is a drag. They should just drive thru the hills with a vegetable cart.. Sell fresh bread that way too.

  4. Organic foods are not good for you. More poisonings from organic than non-organic foods. Most produce sellers buy their goods and claim they are home grown. Hard to sue a farmer’s market seller; not so for a chain. The world’s food supply cannot be sustained by organic farming (billions would starve).

    • Careful with all that truth, rretro! People on this site will likely start calling you “Ted Cruz”

    • Link please.

    • Well pesticides are poison right off the bat. That’s the nice thing about the Farmers Market is that the vendors are certified by the Farmers Market and you can ask if their produce is grown conventionally or if they use any spray fertilizers or pesticides. It’s very hard to get certified organic but many farmers skip those (poisonous) pesticides. It’s good to be able to choose.

  5. i live on the street where this is held twice a week, patrons come ad litter, speed way fast,not thinking of the pets or neighbors that live here. i remember when the market 1st started & the prices were ridiculous but the vendors continued to gauge their patrons & didn’t change with the times,hence most all stores have a good organic selection & often at 1/2 prices they charge at the farmers market, i’m not their to pay the vendors mortgage bills with their outrageous prices. the bottom line is pick up after your lazy asses & slow down cause organic karma says so!

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